The Guilty Regretful Cat Owner

As a cat owner, do you feel guilty sometimes about the standard of your cat guardianship? Do you feel that you could do better but for various reasons you don’t raise your game to the standard that you would like it to be at?

Sometimes it is impossible to provide for your cat in a way which you believe will satisfy him completely. Perhaps it is impossible to satisfy a domestic cat completely. There has to be compromise. And where there is compromise there is sometimes guilt because you feel that you have shortchanged your cat. Your cat does not understand compromise.

Perhaps you are a bit short with money and in a difficult period in your life. Perhaps at all times you struggle with money. You cut your costs to a reasonable level and so you end up perhaps not taking your cat to the vet for a checkup when you should have or you miss a vaccination booster. Or you don’t pop by the vet to pick up some deworming pills because they are expensive and you want to save some money.

You keep your cat inside all the time for safety reasons but you’d like to build him a lovely enclosure in the back garden but you can’t afford it. You feel that your cat needs more entertainment. You feel that your cat’s environment could be richer and more varied and more catlike. It should and could be “catified”. But you’re tired and you are short of funds so you feel a bit guilty that you haven’t done quite enough for your cat.

Or perhaps, if you are living in the UK, you let your cat roam freely outside (most cat owners do). You worry about him. He might not come back. But you see no other alternative. You don’t want to keep your cat inside because you know he’ll become bored and you also know that you haven’t got the energy to keep him entertained. You haven’t got the money to build an enclosure full of nice climbing frames and other devices which would entertain your cat. You feel guilty that on the one hand you are allowing your cat to be unsafe and on the other hand you haven’t got the wherewithal to make him safe and entertained. You feel you could do better but you don’t do better. You might feel guilty.

You will only feel guilty if you are a dedicated and concerned cat caretaker/guardian. It is the good cat caretakers, the good cat owners, who have an ongoing concern for their cat’s welfare and well-being. A lot of people will let their cat roam and they have no worries about it. If their cat does not come back they appear to accept it without real concern.

If a cat belonging to an excellent cat owner goes missing she may feel as if she is a failure. She may feel guilty for not ensuring that her cat is safe. Safety must be the first priority of cat ownership. Everything flows from it. Do people feel guilty with their standards of cat ownership? Or don’t they really care? They should care and they should feel guilty if they don’t meet the standard that they set themselves and the standard should be high because we are dealing with a feeling sentient being and a family member.

Sometimes a feeling of guilt may relate to a certain aspect of cat ownership. It could be almost anything. It could, for example, be a problem in a multi-cat household. The cat owner introduces a new cat and the resident cat doesn’t like it. They fight. The owner has created an unsatisfactory situation in the household. Both cats are unhappy. This is a failure in cat ownership; guilt might follow.

Or if a person is a volunteer feeding and looking after feral cats within a TNR program she may, due to tiredness and a lack of motivation, fail to do her “duties” sometimes. Does this trigger a tinge of guilt?

Declawing my cat 16 years ago is my biggest regret…

A classic example where guilt may take hold is when a cat owner has her cat declawed and then realises sometime after the operation that her cat is suffering and that she had not fully understood the extent of the declawing operation. She decides that she has done something terribly wrong and she can’t undo it. This may well and should lead to a feeling of guilt, regret and unhappiness.

Who has felt guilty at some stage in their efforts to look after their cat or cats to a high standard? I have. I lost my cat recently. I felt ashamed and that I had let him down. I had. I found him after six days. I am now building an enclosure for him at considerable expense. It is the right thing to do.

5 thoughts on “The Guilty Regretful Cat Owner”

  1. The guilt can be terrible at times. But the things we can and do for them tempers the guilt. As long as we do no harm, I think some guilt can be let go.

  2. I’ve lived with “what ifs” all of my life. So many regrets that I can’t count.
    But, as is said, “When you know better, you do better”.
    I no longer rush to do anything with any cat that may be diagnosed with FIV, FeLv, or cancer.
    I’ve learned to look at my beloved cat and not any numbers or diagnoses.
    If I don’t see them suffering, that they are happy and thriving, I leave them to live their lives until there comes a time that I must intervene.
    Diagnoses mean little to me. I’m not going to treat any of my cats any differently because they have a “label”.
    I think that we’ve come a long, long way.

  3. I think all longtime cat owners feel this, particularly when advances in vet medicine show that choices we made in the past were based on information that has now been refuted. A lot of our current conversation is centered on declawing — I’m also thinking of FIV, which used to be considered a death sentence. I have regrets for prematurely euthanizing a beloved FIV cat as soon as I got the diagnosis. Same goes for FELV — do you remember?


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